Overall | Cobra (1986) | Demolition Man (1993) | The Specialist (1994) | Assassins (1995)

Stallone Collection (1986)

Stallone Collection (1986)

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Released 6-Nov-2002

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Overall Package

    The Stallone Collection brings together four Stallone movies of varying quality; Cobra, Demolition Man, The Specialist, and Assassins. As with previous box set collection releases from Warner Home Video, this collection is merely a repackaging of the previously released discs with no additional features other than a perfunctory booklet which replicates the back covers and chapter listings of the previous packages.

    The box set itself is presented as a gatefold package with a slip cover that comes off vertically, the most fragile arrangement of all gatefold packages as the slip cover invariably gets torn fairly early in the life of the package. The slip cover features the classic action image of Sylvester Stallone from Cobra on the front and back.

    A few comments on the specific discs that make up this package are in order;

Cobra - The Region 4 version omits the Audio Commentary and Behind-The-Scenes documentary found on the Region 1 version.

Demolition Man - The Region 4 version is derived from the European master, which badly replaces the Taco Bell product placement with Pizza Hut references. It also omits the Audio Commentary to be found on the Region 1 disc.

The Specialist - Some people may find the opening sequence on the Region 4 version to be marginally out-of-sync. I know I did.

Assassins - My favourite of this batch, and the DVD is quite decent.

    Given the mixed bag status of these discs, it is difficult to give an unreserved recommendation to this box set, even at the relatively bargain price of $79.95 versus $99.80 ($24.95 x 4) for the separate movies. In this case, you are better off picking and choosing the movies you want from the Region you want them from.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Michael Demtschyna (read my bio)
Tuesday, December 10, 2002
Other Reviews
DVD Net - Vincent C

Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Cobra (1986) | Demolition Man (1993) | The Specialist (1994) | Assassins (1995)

Cobra (1986)

Cobra (1986)

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Released 10-Jan-2000

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action None
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1986
Running Time 83:28
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By George P. Cosmatos
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Sylvester Stallone
Brigitte Nielsen
Reni Santoni
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $24.95 Music Sylvester Levay


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Italian
Dutch
Arabic
Spanish
Portuguese
German
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement Yes
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    This typical 1980s action flick stars our old friend Arnold Schwa... I beg your pardon, Sylvester Stallone. Actually, considering the movies these two icons of testosterone and muscle made during this period one could easily interchange them and not notice the difference. Neither, it can be said, has much acting ability nor are they particularly articulate but damn, could these boys make a bucketload of cash out of lame scripts sporting nothing more than bulging biceps, an attitude and some quirky one-liners (movies of this ilk that spring to mind are Raw Deal, Commando, Running Man and Red Heat from Arnie and Over The Top and Lock Up by Sly).

    Cobra is one of those movies that you either love or you hate. Personally, I liked it because there really is nothing to get too serious about in the film. Even the serial killer concept is played out merely as a device to load up the body count (Silence of the Lambs this isn't). The blood looks fake and the jokes are really lame, but then so is the acting.

    Stallone plays the anti-hero good guy (naturally), Lt Marion Cobretti, a member of the police's "zombie" squad (who tackle the jobs that nobody else wants). His partner, played by Reni Santoni, is a wise-cracking junk food junkie. Called into a hostage drama at a supermarket, Cobretti takes out the miscreant and learns of the "New Order". A couple of nights later, "The Night Slasher" (aka Brian Thompson who also plays the Alien Bounty Hunter in the X-Files and is suitably cast for this role) is seen by Brigitte Nielsen as he takes out his 16th victim. Brigitte also passes for the "eye candy" in this movie. In order to protect his identity, the Slasher goes after Nielsen, backed by his army of "New Order" psychos. Guess who stands in his way...

    George P. Cosmatos, who formerly teamed up with Stallone to make Rambo II, keeps this movie motoring along with a substantial body count and some good old smash-'em-up car chases that are entertaining, if not strictly believable. You never feel like the movie is overly long and there is enough action for any aficionados of the genre. Some of the one-liners are heavy "groan" material like (Bad Guy) "I'll blow this whole place up" (Stallone) "Go ahead, I don't shop here", but then it never claimed to be a Shakespearean drama either.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer of this movie is adequate at best. The quality ranges from good to poor.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The sharpness varies widely during the movie. Outdoor shots look fine, but many indoor shots are fuzzy. There is a fair amount of grain in the transfer but fortunately it is not a distraction for the most part. Some low level noise is visible. Blacks are mostly solid, but shadow detail is poor with little fine detail visible making some scenes barely discernible.

    The colour looks faded or washed out in many scenes. One review I read of this DVD suggested that there was some colour bleed but I found no evidence of this. The Pepsi sign above Stallone's apartment does exhibit a halo effect, but this is caused more by reflection than any bleed through. I could detect no evidence of edge enhancement, the general 'softness' of the print basically precluded this.

    Film artefacts abound in this transfer. Moiré artefacts can be seen on the venetian blinds in the hospital at 42:15. There is an obvious missing frame at 26:06. There are myriads of little scratches and pieces of missing emulsion throughout the movie. Prime examples can be seen at 2:05 (large spots that look like dirt marks on the left of the screen) and 45:04 (black line down the middle of the picture). The opening credits are especially noteworthy for artefacts, since the red background during most of it highlights the blemishes enormously. There is also a noticeable shudder in the picture at 62:04-62:12 possibly caused by telecine wobble.

    Subtitles were nicely placed at the top of the movie and very readable (they are white and much of the movie is shot at night or in dark places) and weren't obtrusive.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are three soundtracks present on the disk, English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 2.0 and Italian Dolby Digital 2.0. I listened to the default English soundtrack.

    Apart from Stallone's tendency to mumble his words, the dialogue was clear and discernible at all times. Audio sync wasn't a problem. You may find the sound effects used throughout the movie very 70s'ish in timbre. Explosions had no real bass undertone to them, and gunshots sounded hollow and dubbed. One very audible pop can be heard at 11:35, but otherwise the soundtrack is nice and clean throughout.

    Sylvester Levay, whose musical credits include Navy Seals, Invaders From Mars, and Howard The Duck has adapted the score well to suit the action. Often using nothing more than subtle bass underlays, his score adds to the dialogue rather than being a distraction. Several songs litter the audio 'landscape' including Suave by Miami Sound Machine and Loving On Borrowed Time by Gladys Knight and Bill Medley amongst others and are quite reasonably located.

    The surround channels barely get used throughout the movie with the exception of some action scenes. At 44:40 you get some noticeable activity as cars scream around corners and again at 47:02 with the sound of explosions being clearly discernible, but otherwise they remained fairly dead.

    The subwoofer, like the surrounds is again barely used and only when there was action on the screen. There are some nice throaty rumbles emanating from the subwoofer at 43:44 during the car chase scene, but unless you really cranked the sound up you'd be hard pressed to really 'feel' any major activity.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    None.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The R1 version misses out on;     The R4 version misses out on;     Given PAL's innate superiority over NTSC I'd favour the R4 version, but if you are a "features" person then the R1 version may be more attractive. Another point that might shape any decision to buy is that Warner Home Video are placing this title on their $24.95 list, from recently received news. Given the current exchange rate and the average buy price of US$17.95 a $15+ price difference would be powerful incentive to buy local.

Summary

    Cobra is an average, enjoyable action flick that sustains itself with good pacing and rarely becomes boring. To be honest though, this is nothing more than the equivalent of a widescreen VHS version with better sound and no tracking errors. The quality of the transfer is average and this is another DVD that lacks even the most basic extra.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Carl Berry (read my bio)
Thursday, April 26, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDLoewe Xemix 5006DD, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Xelos (81cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-595a
SpeakersJBL TLX16s Front Speakers, Polk Audio 3MIIs Rear Speakers, Polk Audio CS245 Centre Speaker, M&KV-75 Subwoofer

Other Reviews
DVD Net - Steve K
The DVD Bits - Craig M

Comments (Add)
R1 is the one to go for. -

Overall | Cobra (1986) | Demolition Man (1993) | The Specialist (1994) | Assassins (1995)

Demolition Man (1993)

Demolition Man (1993)

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Released 12-Jul-1999

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1993
Running Time 110:20
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Marco Brambilla
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Sylvester Stallone
Wesley Snipes
Sandra Bullock
Nigel Hawthorne
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $24.95 Music Elliot Goldenthal


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Italian
Dutch
Arabic
Spanish
Portuguese
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes, extremely (see Censorship Notes)
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Demolition Man is so way-over-the-top that it is entertaining in a campy way. Sylvester Stallone is a police officer (John Spartan, the "Demolition Man") who blows up a building with Simon Phoenix (Wesley Snipes) contained in it. Simon survives, but the 20 hostages he had taken do not. Both John Spartan and Simon Phoenix are cryogenically frozen - that is their prison sentence.

    Fast forward 32 years. The world has mellowed out from the hyper-violent 1990s. Things are tranquil, there is peace on Earth, and there is no violence. This seemingly utopian society is presided over by Dr Raymond Cocteau (Nigel Hawthorn), ably assisted by the magnificently corpulent and grovelling Associate Bob (Glenn Shadix).

    Simon Phoenix comes up for parole, and he is awoken from his cryogenic sleep. He escapes, and begins a brutal reign of terror - the pacifist police force of the 2020s is no match for Phoenix's brutal tactics, and so they awaken John Spartan.

    The movie shows two extremes, from the serene and semi-hypnotic vision of the 21st Century, to the ultra-violent juxtaposition of the 1990s way of doing things. I enjoyed the serenity - it was well-written, and an interesting vision of the next century. I thought the violence was way way way over the top (where did that seemingly inexhaustible ammunition originate from?), but I enjoyed the movie overall, except for the very annoying product placement.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. It is 16x9 enhanced.

    The image is generally sharp and clear. Some of the scenes lacked in definition slightly, and some of the scenes exhibited some graininess. Shadow detail was good, and there was no low level noise.

    The colours were well saturated throughout.

    No MPEG artefacts were seen. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of moderate amounts of aliasing, but this artefact remained at acceptable limits at all times. Film artefacts were rarely present.

Audio

    There are three audio tracks on this DVD; English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1 and Italian Dolby Digital 5.1. I listened to the default English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.

    Dialogue was usually clear and easy to understand, though as is the norm for Sylvester Stallone movies, his dialogue was hard to make out at times.

    The only audio sync problems with this disc occurred as a result of the overdubbing of the words "Pizza Hut" wherever the movie originally had "Taco Bell". Each time this occurred, there was a clear discrepancy between the words which were being said and the mouth movements taking place at the same time. Other than this very annoying issue, there were no audio sync problems with this disc.

    The soundtrack was scored by Elliot Goldenthal and is comprised of a mix of eclectic tunes and heavy action movie scoring. Generallly, it admirably suited the on-screen action.

    The surround channels were very aggressively used for the special effects, especially towards the latter part of the movie, where a nicely enveloping soundfield was created. Music also found its way into the rear channels periodically.

    The .1 channel was heavily used during the special effects sequences, with very good effect.

Extras

    There are no extras on this disc.

Menu

    The menu is 16x9 enhanced and is otherwise unremarkable.

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this DVD misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this DVD misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this DVD is the version of choice.

Summary

    Demolition Man is a flawed, but interesting nonetheless, look at the near future. The script has numerous good ideas, and plenty of tongue-in-cheek action and humour, and is only let down by some of the more ridiculous action sequences which are just so over the top that they are not believable.

    The video quality is good but not great.

    The audio quality is very good.

    The extras are non-existent.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Michael Demtschyna (read my bio)
Monday, August 09, 1999
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-505, using S-Video output
DisplayLoewe Art-95 (95cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderDenon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital decoder. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
Amplification2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
SpeakersPhilips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer

Other Reviews
Jeff K's Australian DVD Info Site - Ian M (Biological imperfection run amok)
DVD Net - Vincent C

Comments (Add)
Huxley actually Spartan's daughter? - strwbrygrl

Overall | Cobra (1986) | Demolition Man (1993) | The Specialist (1994) | Assassins (1995)

The Specialist (1994)

The Specialist (1994)

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Released 7-Oct-1998

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Biographies-Cast & Crew
Production Notes
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1994
Running Time 105
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 4 Directed By Luis Llosa
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Sylvester Stallone
Sharon Stone
James Woods
Rod Steiger
Eric Roberts
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $24.95 Music John Barry


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Arabic
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The Specialist is a stunningly bad example of the severely brain-dead action movie genre. Clearly, there was no money left for plot development after Sylvester and Sharon were paid their fees in this lemon.

    The movie opens with a sequence involving Ray Quick (Sylvester Stallone) and Ned Trent (James Woods), whom we are told are working for the CIA and are about to blow up a drug lord. Unfortunately, a little girl is killed in the explosion. Ray is upset. Ned isn't. Ned is clearly the Bad GuyTM. Ray gets Ned kicked out of the CIA and then goes to ground himself.

    May Munro (Sharon Stone) sees her parents get killed by three mobsters for no reason as a child. She vows revenge, and contacts Ray via a BBS called the Weekend Warrior BBS. She wants Ray to kill the mobsters by blowing them up ("bullets are so imprecise"). For no reason at all, we see Ray beat up some obnoxious punks in a bus so a pregnant woman can have a seat. May meets one of the mobsters and becomes his girlfriend. Ray decides to help May.

    We see a mobster get shot in the head by another mobster (looked pretty precise to me) and then get blown up by Ray's bomb (looked pretty imprecise to me). Ned is involved with this particular mob family, and so he gets assigned to the police task force investigating the bombing. He gets to strut around and curl his upper lip a lot and generally act like a Bad GuyTM.

    Next, the second mobster is blown up ("bye-bye").

    Next, we find out that May is setting up Ray so that Ned can get to him since Ned is pretty sore at Ray for having him kicked out of the CIA.

    Next, the third mobster, Tomas Leon (Eric Roberts, Julia's brother), is killed. This makes Joe Leon (Rod Steiger) mad since Tomas was his son. Joe Leon is supposed to be the sinister Mob BossTM, but comes across more like Joe Dolce than anything else. Joe tells Ned to get Ray or else. In this confusion, we are unsure whether or not May has been killed but it turns out she wasn't and gets to meet Ray. They have sex in a hotel room. Look, Fred, look, Sharon Stone naked. Look, Fred, look, Sylvester Stallone is a really small guy (in height). May goes away. Ned finds her. Ned finds Ray. Ray escapes. More mobsters die in what is supposed to be a thrilling action sequence in the hotel but which just looks fake.

    Ned figures out where Ray lives. Ned goes there. Things are blown up. Ray escapes. Joe Leon is blown up for good measure. The movie ends. Ray and May live happily ever after. Thank God it's only 105 minutes long in PAL instead of 109 minutes (NTSC).

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This is an absolutely stunning video transfer. In fact, this video transfer now takes the cake for the best video transfer I have ever seen on DVD. There are essentially no faults with it, but to cover my usual ground;

    This transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, 16x9 enhanced.

    The movie was razor sharp at all times. Shadow detail was superb with clear shadow details and not a trace of noise.

    The colour was perfectly rendered throughout the transfer. There were many dimly-lit scenes, and a number of scenes with high red content, but they all transferred perfectly to video.

    No MPEG artefacts were seen. Film-to-video artefacts were non-existent. I noted a few trivial film artefacts very occasionally, but nothing of note. This is an exceptionally clean transfer.

Audio

    There is only one audio track on this DVD, English Dolby Digital 5.1.

    Dialogue was generally clear and intelligible, though somewhat hard to understand in some places, most notably when Sylvester Stallone was speaking in some places, though this is as much Sylvester's as the transfer's fault. Of more concern, the dialogue and sound effects at the start of the movie were out of sync with the picture slightly, being marginally delayed for the first few scenes. This markedly detracted from the impact of the opening sequence.

    The music is unremarkable.

     The surround channels were used during special effects sequences to create an enveloping soundfield. They were also active during a lot of the music, and at times to add ambience to the movie.

    The .1 channel was mainly used to underscore the action sequences, which featured frequent explosions, and which it did well.

Extras

    The theatrical trailer is present on this DVD, presented in 1.85:1 16x9 enhanced with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack which was surround encoded, making this the most sophisticated movie trailer present on any of the Region 4 DVDs that I have viewed so far.

    The other extras on this DVD are still frames for the cast and crew biographies, still framed brief production notes and Reel Recommendations. Reel Recommendations are still frames of other Warner DVD titles that the stars and the director were involved with.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this DVD misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this DVD misses out on;

    There is no compelling reason to prefer one version over the other.

Summary

    The Specialist is a seriously flawed movie. The plot is just atrocious, the special effects sequences look fake, and the fight sequences are badly choreographed so it is obvious that the actors aren't really hitting each other. The characters are all paper thin, and all the bad guys do is strut about ineffectually until they are killed by Sylvester. It is truly sheer relief as they are killed off one-by-one since we no longer have to endure their on-screen presence.

    There are many senseless scenes in the movie, such as the bus sequence, a silly sequence where Sylvester poses for the presumed benefit of the female audience, and a number of sequences where Sharon does this a bit, too. There is also a lot of smoking in this movie, quite clearly promoting smoking rather than advancing plot.

    The video quality is stunning. This transfer now takes the crown of best Region 4 DVD video transfer. This is about the only good thing I have to say about this movie.

    The audio quality is generally good, but dialogue is sometimes hard to hear, and is marginally out of sync early on in the movie. However, it does normalize within the first five minutes.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Michael Demtschyna (read my bio)
Tuesday, October 27, 1998
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-505, using S-Video output
DisplayLoewe Art-95 (95cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderDenon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital decoder. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
Amplification2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
SpeakersPhilips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer

Other Reviews
NZHT - Damon B
DVD Net - Vincent C

Comments (Add)
Sunglasses drinking game for The Specialist - Christopher

Overall | Cobra (1986) | Demolition Man (1993) | The Specialist (1994) | Assassins (1995)

Assassins (1995)

Assassins (1995)

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Released 11-Dec-1998

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Biographies-Cast & Crew
Production Notes
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1995
Running Time 127
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 4 Directed By Richard Donner
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Sylvester Stallone
Antonio Banderas
Julianne Moore
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $24.95 Music Mark Mancina


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Arabic
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Assassins is an action thriller starring Sylvester Stallone as Robert Rath, a professional hit man who is tired and burnt out, and wanting to get out of the business. He accepts another job, but it turns out that someone else kills the target first, someone who turns out to be Miguel Bain (Antonio Banderas). Robert Rath is a very cool and relaxed killer. Miguel Bain is a psychopath. Robert Rath wants to retire, Miguel Bain idolizes Robert Rath and has studied his work in detail, and wants to be number one.

    Robert accepts one final contract; to kill the seller and the buyers of some intercepted information on computer disc. The seller is Electra (Julianne Moore), and the price is $2,000,000. Once again, Miguel Bain beats Robert to the sellers, but Robert refuses to kill Electra, and escapes with her. The price of the disc goes up to $20,000,000, which incidentally Electra reads off the screen as $25,000,000, a subtle continuity fault. The price is paid, but not before Robert Rath himself becomes the target.

    There is action aplenty in the movie, and quite an intriguing storyline to boot. The stunts are tremendous, and the characters are also quite well-developed and intriguing. Antonio Banderas is excellent as an unhinged killer who wants to become "number one" - by killing Robert Rath if necessary. Sylvester Stallone is uncharacteristically profound in his role, and uncharacteristically easy to understand. There are many twists and turns to the plot, which is actually very clever, and it will keep you guessing until the very end. Several surprises await you at the end of the movie, where a number of mysterious loose ends are tied up. Overall, this is a very satisfying movie from both the action and the storyline point of view.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    The video transfer of this movie is generally very good after the first five minutes. There are a few problems early on, but they quickly settle down.

    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced. The entire frame is used for a lot of this movie, especially the computer graphics, where I found that the edges of the displays were being cut off. This, unfortunately, is the result of horizontal overscan in my display device, so I cannot comment on whether or not the framing was appropriate or not, given that the original aspect ratio of this movie was 1.85:1. We are either getting slightly less of the edges or slightly more of the top and bottom of the screen. I moved the horizontal position around a bit, and it seems as if at least the left edge of the picture is fully intact, though I am not sure about the right side.

    The transfer was very sharp at all times. Shadow detail was mostly superb, but with the odd scene here and there lacking a little in shadow detail. No low level noise was present.

    The colours were nicely rendered in this transfer, ranging from muted and sedate in the darker scenes to vivid and vibrant in the higher lit sequences.

    No MPEG artefacts were seen. Film-to-video artefacts were virtually non-existent, with occasional small amounts of aliasing being present here and there. Film artefacts were common in the first five minutes, but then settled down to the occasional spot or scratch here and there.

Audio

    There is only one audio track on this DVD - English Dolby Digital 5.1.

    Dialogue was clear all of the time, even from Sylvester Stallone.

    The music is tremendous at creating atmosphere in this movie. It is often present, and is quite strident and percussive at times, all very appropriate for the on-screen action. It is aggressively mixed into the surround channels, creating a superbly enveloping soundtrack.

     The surround channels were moderately heavily used for music, effects and some ambience. The music in particular helped to give a nearly continuous surround presence. Coupled with the aggressive mix of the action sequences into the surrounds, this made for a superbly enveloping surround experience.

    The .1 channel was used for the music and for effects. It was moderately heavily used.

Extras

Menu

    The menu design on the disc is very plain but effective.

Theatrical Trailer

    There is no Theatrical Trailer on this disc.

Production Notes

    Only limited production notes are present.

Cast & Crew Biographies

    Limited Cast & Crew Biographies are present.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this DVD misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this DVD misses out on;

    There is no compelling reason to prefer one version over the other.

Summary

    Assassins is an excellent Action Thriller with plenty of Action and plenty of Thriller elements (and plenty of Product Placement). The main characters are interesting and well-developed. The story is excellent with twists and turns throughout, including a surprise at the end. Overall, I very much enjoyed this movie.

    The video quality has a number of minor problems early on, but then settles down to be an excellent transfer.

    The audio quality is very good with clear dialogue and a nicely enveloping surround presence.

    The extras are very limited.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Michael Demtschyna (read my bio)
Thursday, December 31, 1998
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-505, using S-Video output
DisplayLoewe Art-95 (95cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderDenon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital decoder. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
Amplification2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
SpeakersPhilips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer

Other Reviews
NZHT - Damon B
DVD Rent - Deej
Jeff K's Australian DVD Info Site - Ian M (Biological imperfection run amok)
DVD Net - Vincent C

Comments (Add)
If you like a good psychological thriller, make sure you see this one. - gRANT (Read my bio, mmm... uncompressed surround audio)